United States to bring maximum term for student visa

The USA administration announced that they are planning to introduce “a maximum period of authorized stay and options for extensions” for US student visas (and other nonimmigrant visa classes). This approach would in replace of the long-standing practice of issuing student visas for the duration of studies (or “D/S”). D/S is an open-ended period of time for which a student visa may be valid or be renewed so long as the student has not violated his or her visa conditions and so long as the student remains engaged in a programme of study or practical training.

The US government notice cites a concern over foreign students overstaying their visas. The policy notice does not provide any further detail with respect to the scale of this problem – that is, the number or proportion of visiting students who actually overstay their visas – nor does it indicate the types of limits on visa terms or extensions that may be introduced.

The US administration is preparing for reforms to the key Optional Practical Training (OPT) and H-1B visa programmes, introduced restrictions on some Chinese student visas, and, most recently, published final guidance for a new, more stringent approach to determining how and when a visiting student begins to accrue “unlawful presence.” The significance of this, in part, is that any foreign students that are classified can be subject to five-to–ten-year bans on re-entering the country. After decades of nearly uninterrupted growth, international student numbers in the US declined marginally between 2017 and 2018. And as we observed in a recent related report, the US is effectively losing global market share as other major study destinations continue to grow their international enrolments at a faster rate.

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